Child rights

Monday, 10 June 2019

Discrimination Resulting from Segregation Established in the Primary School "Branko Radičević" in Bujanovac

The Commissioner for Protection of Equality, acting upon a complaint lodged by Praxis, established that the Primary School "Branko Radičević" in Bujanovac, the Administration of Bujanovac Municipality and the Ministry of Justice, Science and Technological Development had violated, within their respective purviews, Articles 6 and 19 of the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination because they failed to implement appropriate and effective measures to prevent and eliminate the formation of Roma-only classes in the said school. 

The formation of segregated classes in the school year 2018/19 was certainly a reason for addressing the Commissioner, but Praxis also pointed out that segregation had existed in this school for many years, that only-Roma classes existed in almost all grades, that there was an obvious disproportionate representation of Roma pupils and their parents in the Student Parliament, the Parent Council and the School Board, that annual school plans were burdened with stereotypical and discriminatory statements, and that the local environment was not supportive for the Roma community. In the procedure, the Commissioner established that Praxis’ allegations were founded and recommended measures for desegregation, but also for involving members of the Roma national minority in the work of school bodies, and training of all employees about discrimination, as well as measures aimed at developing a spirit of tolerance, respect for diversity and non-discriminatory behaviour.

The segregation in the Primary School "Branko Radičević" in Bujanovac is not an isolated case, and Serbia is expected to specifically consider the problem of segregation in education, as the European Commission pointed in its Serbia 2019 Report. Praxis also tried to stress this specific social problem which seriously violates the rights of the child by lodging complaints with the Commissioner for Protection of Equality on earlier occasions. However, the Commissioner either avoided to establish discrimination despite the existence of segregation in the PS "Vuk Karadžić" in Niš or considered that the right to education referred to in the Law on the Fundamentals of the Education had been violated, and not the provisions of the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination, as claimed in the complaint against the PS "Jovan Jovanović Zmaj" in Surdulica.   

Bearing in mind the position so far regarding the existence of discrimination in the cases of segregation of Roma pupils, we reiterate the importance of the Commissioner’s decision in this particular case, and believe that the issued opinion will have a significant impact on the actions and work of public institutions, and that it will contribute to the suppression and eradication of this harmful social phenomenon.

Download the Commissioner's opinion here.

See media coverage:
RTS: "Children from Bujanovac without prejudice, education for parents as well" 
JuGmedia: "Discrimination: All Roma children separated in special classrooms" 
ROMInfomedia: "Segregation of Roma children in Bujanovac established" 
ROMInformedia: "BUJANOVAC: Primary School "Branko Radičević" will not act upon the Commissioner's recommendation, Roma classes remain" 
Blic: "All Roma children put in the same class" - Non-governmental organization pointed out at discrimination in Bujanovac 

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Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action